Functional screening in traditional medicine.
There are many popular herbal drugs that are traditionally recognised as psychoactive. Although for many of these herbal drugs there is a growing amount of modern clinical data to substantiate their psychoactive properties, there exists very little evidence of the pharmacological mode of action of many of them. However, such studies are necessary in order to ensure their safer use as well as to identify their full potential as therapeutic psychoactive drugs. Furthermore, screening such phyto-pharmaceuticals provides an opportunity for identifying new lead substances as well as studying the pharmacological basis of reputed synergistic mode of action of herbal drugs. Their complex chemical nature makes herbal drugs difficult to study using conventional in vitro pharmacological models, such as patch clamp or synaptosome uptake studies. Moreover, these techniques do not reflect emerging neuronal network properties. The NeuroProof technology provides more relevant physiological information, which can be obtained using in vitro microelectrode recording systems.
The multiparametric description of the activity pattern changes caused by treatment of a multicellular neuronal network is a sophisticated approach to quantify the complex effects of neuroactive agents, of unknown compounds, and of complex mixtures such as biological extracts. The data provide novel, global insights into the possible pharmacological mechanisms of modes of action of herbal drugs.